The deployment was described by the Journal as “a sign of concern within the Pentagon over Taiwan’s tactical capabilities in light of Beijing’s yearslong military buildup and recent threatening moves against the island.”
Top U.S. military officials, per the newspaper, have testified this year that they believe Beijing is “likely to use force” with Taiwan in the next few years.
“We are accumulating risk that may embolden China to unilaterally change the status quo before our forces may be able to deliver an effective response,” Adm. Philip Davidson, the departing head of the Indo-Pacific Command, told Congress earlier this year, as reported by NBC. “Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions. … And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact, in the next six years.”
“Taiwan badly neglected its national defense for the first 15 years or so of this century, buying too much expensive equipment that will get destroyed in the first hours of a conflict, and too little in the way of cheaper but lethal systems—antiship missiles, smart sea mines and well-trained reserve and auxiliary forces—that could seriously complicate Beijing’s war plans,” Matt Pottinger, a Trump-era deputy national security adviser who now works for the Hoover Institution, told the Journal. But he told the newspaper that he was not aware that such a deployment had taken place.
Back in March, NBC News looked at whether the U.S. was ready to take defense measures to defend Taiwan.
“China’s massive arms buildup has raised doubts about America’s ability to defend Taiwan if a war broke out, reflecting a shifting balance of power in the Pacific where American forces once dominated,” NBC said, citing “U.S. officials and experts.” This referenced “sobering” results from tabletop war games that have taken place, laying out a scenario that resembles a potential U.S./China confrontation over Taiwan.
David Ochmanek, a former senior Defense Department official who is now at the RAND Corp., told NBC in the spring that the war games showed China wiping out Taiwan’s air force, with Chinese missiles keeping American ships and aircraft “at bay.”
“Even when the [American] teams in our simulations and war games intervened in a determined way, they don’t always succeed in defeating the invasion,” Ochmanek told NBC.
The report added that 20 years ago, China “had no chance of successfully challenging the U.S. military in the Taiwan Strait,” but that has changed over the years, as China’s capabilities have become more advanced.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.